When you get behind the wheel of your car and take to the road, you have the right to expect that those roads will be reasonably well maintained to help ensure the safety of all who travel on them. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and poorly maintained roads can lead to serious motor vehicle accidents. While negligent drivers cause many car accidents, road defects caused by poor road maintenance can also play a significant role in these dangerous accidents. As a driver, you bear the enormous responsibility of abiding by the rules of the road as you safely maneuver your vehicle through traffic. The government (at the state, federal, and local level) also bears a significant responsibility to maintain the roads so that travelers can be confident they are driving in safe conditions.
Road Defect Accidents
It sometimes happens that the governmental party responsible for maintaining safe roadways is negligent in that duty, which can lead to serious injuries and property damage. Issues such as whether the road defect in question directly caused the accident, who was responsible for either safely maintaining the road or adequately warning motorists about the potential danger, and whether the responsible agency can be sued all play a significant role in cases related to negligent road maintenance, these claims are nevertheless important and worth pursuing.
Because these claims typically involve a governmental agency, they are often especially complex. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by a poorly maintained road, you need experienced legal counsel. The dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm in Philadelphia has the skill, understanding, and determination to help effectively guide your claim toward just compensation.
Responsibility for Roadway Maintenance
The roads that we travel on are usually maintained by either the county, city, or state charged with that responsibility. The responsibility of maintaining some roadways can even be shared by more than one such agency. Determining which governmental agency is responsible for specific aspects of road maintenance and determining whether that agency can be held legally responsible for ensuing accidents is a complicated process that typically necessitates skilled legal guidance.
Determining the Cause of Your Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that was caused by faulty road maintenance, first seek immediate medical attention and then consult with an experienced car accident attorney. The first step in the legal process is determining whether the faulty road maintenance actually caused your accident and your resulting injuries, which typically means retaining expert testimony in support of your claim. Expert witnesses have the education, experience, skill, background, and knowledge to qualify as experts on important legal topics such as the relationship between road maintenance and car accidents. Your car accident attorney will strive to ensure that your case has the expert testimony necessary to effectively support your accident claim.
Proving Faulty Maintenance
Once you can show that your accident was caused by a defect in the road that is the result of inadequate maintenance, it’s necessary to determine what agency is responsible for the safe maintenance of that roadway and then to identify how that agency neglected this important responsibility. The usually involves demonstrating that the government agency in question was responsible for maintaining the road in safe condition and that the agency could have and should have taken care to repair the road defect caused by improper maintenance or could have and should have appropriately warned motorists about the danger but instead did nothing or did too little to mitigate the danger to motorists on the road.
Negligence by Design
While it is critical to the safety of our roadways that they be well maintained, it is also imperative that they are constructed according to safe design in the first place. The safe design and construction of the roads on which we all travel is critical to keeping those roads safe. If, for example, a government agency chooses to decrease funding for guardrails that are empirically beneficial and a preventable accident ensues, the agency may be found legally negligent of its responsibility to maintain safe roads.
Suing an Agency of the Government
Many—but not all—government agencies cannot be sued (this is known as governmental immunity when it’s applied to local governmental agencies and as sovereign immunity when it’s applied to state and federal agencies). This immunity can limit your ability to sue an agency for damages incurred in an accident caused by poorly maintained roads. An important exception to this immunity can apply, however, and this exception is when a governmental agency is significantly negligent in its duty to maintain safe roadways.
What Constitutes Negligence?
Giant potholes or sinkholes and cracked or broken roadways are generally indicative of negligent road maintenance, but there are a variety of other signs of negligent maintenance:
- The absence of (or inadequate) warning signs that indicate the danger that lies ahead;
- Broken or malfunctioning traffic lights or signals;
- Inadequate, damaged, or confusing street signs;
- Inadequate warning and/or driving instructions related to sections of the road that are under road construction or that necessitate a detour;
- Missing or damaged safety mechanisms, such as guardrails;
- Inadequate drainage that leads to a slippery surface or to flooding;
- Insufficient or missing shoulders; and
- Debris from road construction on the roadway.
Any of these instances can be indicative of significant negligence as it relates to maintaining safe roads.
If Poor Road Maintenance Has Left You Injured, Contact an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a car accident while driving on a negligently maintained roadway you understand how difficult that is. Road maintenance claims—because they typically involve a government agency—are complex and require skilled legal counsel. The experienced car accident lawyers at The Levin Firm have the knowledge, skill, and commitment to aggressively advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution, and we’re here to help. Your rights and your rightful compensation matter too much to leave to chance, so please contact or call us at 215-825-5183 today.